Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Great Way to Lose Weight

Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Luke 6:25

I stated in a previous post that I would be cogitating and blogging on real, practical ways to help poor people … and then I stopped blogging for about four months, perhaps leaving my reader (Hi, Mom!) with the impression that I had either lost steam with this blog or I didn’t have any bright ideas on the subject. Well, neither is true. I have been steadily working on this idea of how to really help poor people--it was frequently on my mind as we travelled through Bolivia, one of South America's poorest countries--and I do have some more ideas, like microlending that I blogged about some months ago, but I have not been in a season of blogging. So, just waiting for the season to change.

Meanwhile, the above scripture has been buzzing around in my head for some time, aching to be explored more fully. I quoted it to my daughter one day and she said, "Oh, no!" We both thought that was funny--ha ha, woe to us 'cause we are well-fed now! But wait, is God's word something to be taken so lightly?

Is this scripture one of those instances in which Jesus uses hyperbole, or did he actually mean this literally? Are we really headed for an eternity of hunger if we are well fed on earth? We could surely say, "No, God has provided for us abundantly and if it is God that provides the blessing, then it is meant to be enjoyed without fear of eternal penalty!" And further, how could we, sons and daughters of the Most High, go hungry for eternity, or even for a season in eternity? There is no punishment in Heaven, right?

Maybe this scripture means that if you are well fed now and are stingy toward God, then you will go hungry later. I'm recalling here the parable about the rich man who had a good crop and decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to hold all the harvest, thinking he would be set for some years and could just take it easy. But then God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you." Of him Jesus said, "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (Read the whole parable in Luke 12.) Can we apply the teaching of this parable to being well fed? Maybe it is OK to have a bounty on your table everyday as long as you are giving God the credit for it, appreciating it, sharing it through acts of hospitality and not failing to give back to God the first fruits of your time and money. After all, we know there were many rich and faith-filled characters in the Bible: Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Jabez and many more. Surely they were well fed! And if they were, could it be wrong for me to be?

Here's a question for you: Do you think that any of the well-fed faithful of the Bible were also overweight? I'm on a tangent here, but it is something God showed me. If you are not well fed, you cannot be overweight. And if you are not overweight, your "temple" is in better shape to be useful to and bring glory to God. Of course, there are genetic factors… but wait, why is it that there are no genetically fat people in the underfed parts of the world? Even a genetic predisposition, or being "big boned," cannot cause a starving person to look fat. Fatness comes from being too "well fed"--end of argument. So for those of us struggling with weight (count me in), this scripture holds a key to weight loss. Stop feeding yourself so well!

This scripture isn't just an indictment of the rotund, however, in fact, it doesn't mention being fat at all. Woe to you if you are well fed probably means having plenty to eat and eating it, regardless of what size you wear. Jesus also "woed" those who are rich now, because they have already received their comfort. So if you are well fed and rich--double your woe!

Double my woe, then, because I am well fed and, though not rich according to U.S. standards, according to the standards of all history and humanity combined--which are the ones I will be judged against--I am rich. I have net worth, clothes to give away and my own private mode of transportation! Okay, so I need to do something about this because I don’t want a double portion of woe. Let’s see what Jesus suggests: "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." Gulp. He follows this up by saying if we do this thing, we will have rewards in heaven (Matt 19:21). So let's add this up: If I am well fed and rich now, I am going to go hungry later and shouldn't be expecting an eternity of comfort, since I have already had mine. However, if I will just sell my possessions and give to the poor, then I won't be rich anymore and I won't be able to feed myself well anymore, cancelling my double woe, and to boot, I'm promised rewards in heaven!

For a person who really has her bearings set on eternity, this seems like a no-brainer. What are you waiting for—hang out that "for sale" sign today! But for the rest of us who firmly have at least one foot planted on earth, we can find all kinds of reasons why that is just not feasible. "I've got kids!" "I have a job that requires x, y and z electronic toys and fast cars!" "I'm using my computer for God's glory!" Yep, there are all kinds of reasons why we can't sell it all and follow Jesus… and He's heard them all! "I have to bury my father;" "I just bought some new livestock;" and even "I just got married!" There are lots of good reasons why we can't do what Jesus is asking us to do. Spend a minute now and think of your own! Or, in other words, make a list of the things you have not yet trusted to God and the things you would not sacrifice for your faith.

Don’t get mad at me; I’m just blogging, which almost literally means talking to myself in cyberspace. This message is for me too! I have so much crap (a spiritually technical term for my earthly possessions), that I hold on to for nonsense sake. Lord, help me let go.

Let’s be real. I don’t have (and probably you don’t either) the kind of spiritual maturity needed to sell it all and live on daily bread. So what to do! Just ignore that scripture about being well fed, like the entire nation of the United States of America is doing? After all, it’s not like if I eat any less, there will be more food for people in Africa. If I drop down from a half-pound of protein a day to a quarter-pound, will the difference be redirected to the world’s hungry? No. And I can’t send them my leftovers either, so what’s the point? God blessed me and please pass the potatoes! (And meatloaf, green beans, gravy, oh, and give me a roll, would ya? And I can’t wait for dessert! I want to try that layer cake and have a piece of my favorite—pecan pie. Mmm!)

Brother and Sister in Christ, if you contemplate this scripture and receive this message and have gotten just an inkling of the absurdity that is the American diet, in contrast to the malnutrition of the majority of the world, and then do nothing different, you can triple your woe, because for those who know to do right and do it not, it is a sin. Ignore this scripture at your own spiritual risk.

I encourage you to feed on this scripture for one day. Give up food for one day and chew on this text instead. See what God reveals to you. “Oh, I have x, y, or z medical condition, and I can’t fast.” Bologna! (ha! Punny, considering the topic!). You can too fast! Call your doctor and ask if going without food one day will put you in the hospital. I betcha he says it won’t. Do you think God will allow you to die or become deathly ill while in the midst of a spiritual discipline to bring yourself more in line with His will? Oh, you of little faith. Fast, already!

I want you to hear from God on this for yourself, but I will nonetheless let you in on what I got (after three days on liquid only), not so you can shortcut the fast and go with what God gave me, but because I think He wants me to share. And if you do this and you get something different than I got, please, e-mail me or comment to this blog (that would be better, so my mom could see it too, haha) and we’ll spur each other on toward good works in that way.

Here’s my word from God. “Okay, Donna, you lack faith to sell out and follow me, so I will do what I always do and meet you where you are. How about this: You know what you have budgeted for food every month, right?”

“Yes, Lord, $900.” (Family of four with three dogs and includes cleaning supplies, etc.)

“How about you set a goal for yourself to cut the fat out of that budget and give the savings to the poor. Start with 10 percent. Save $90 a month on your food budget and instead of buying clothes with it or sticking in the kids’ college fund, add it to your gifts to me.”

I can do that. I pride myself on being an economizer (emphasis on the MIZER!) and probably just by replacing one meat meal with vegetable protein each week and dropping out some of the fun foods that are bad for my temple anyway, I can save $90 a month. If we eat out one less time a month, we could cut $40 or so and cut our calorie count too.

I could probably save $90 just by using coupons, planning meals better and shopping the sales at various stores, and I should, but that wouldn’t impact my being well fed. I believe one of the spiritual objectives here is to challenge us to do the most good we can with what we’ve got. But there are others. Three I readily see are moderation; “temple management” or good health; and putting food in a proper spiritual perspective (Do not set your heart on what you will eat… Luke 12:29.) I am sure there are others.

Now, what will I do with the extra $90 a month that I have to give to the poor? I’m not sending it to some top-heavy organization that will trickle down a bag of rice to some refugees. I want it to make an impact. That brings me back to the matter of how to really help poor people. So stay tuned… the seasons are changing.